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16 posts from May 2012

05/31/2012

~ Sweet Heat: Strawberry & Guajillo Chile Sauce, or: Summer Strawberries Never Tasted Sooooo Good! ~

PICT0024One of my favorite times of year is now:  strawberry season.  For the past two weeks, juicy and delicious strawberries have been available to me in every market.  While I've been gleefully feasting on them, it wasn't until today that I could officially proclaim it strawberry season.  Why? Because the strawberry patch in my husbands garden is full, and, they are ripening very quickly. Strawberries are also showing up at all of our local farmers markets this week too, and, lets face it, there's nothing better than freshly picked, locally-grown strawberries!

PICT0011When I was growing up, the first thing every cook in my family did with fresh strawberries was make strawberry jam.  I was the first one in line with the Wonder bread, Jiff peanut butter and a knife, waiting for it to be cool enough to slather on a PB&J and eat!  

Yes, I could show you a recipe for strawberry jam (and eventually I will), but, my guess is, you probably have a family recipe for strawberry jam, and that make me very happy. My reason for choosing this particular strawberry sauce recipe as the first of two consecutive strawberry posts is two-fold:

PICT0011Fresh strawberry sauce, served chilled, is quite versatile and is fantastic on a lot of things besides banana splits. It's great atop pancakes and waffles, stirred into pudding or yogurt, and, your oatmeal or Special K cereal too.  It's pictured here atop my recipe for ~ Sweet Heat:  Strawberry & Guajillo Chile Ice Cream ~, which you can find in Categories 6, 13 or 20!  Fresh strawberry sauce, served warm, is fabulous on grilled chicken, pan-seared duck breasts and poached fish.  BUT, when you mix fresh strawberry sauce with a little bit of heat, the kind that comes from chile peppers, you've got a gourmet treat (which leads me to why I'm posting this recipe)!

East meets West:  The Strawberry-Chicken Quesadilla!

PICT0025The first time I ever tasted strawberry sauce made with chile peppers mixed in was in Anaheim, California.  It was back in the latter 1980's and Joe was attending a conference.  He did as he often did and booked a ticket for me to tag along.  On the day before our return home, we shopped and had lunch at an outdoor cafe. For whatever reason, when I saw a "Strawberry Chicken Quesadilla" on the menu, I had to order it.  Sandwiched inside of a perfectly grilled flour tortilla, was a mixture of grilled chicken, sauted onion, black beans and queso fresco cheese. Drizzled over the top was a chunky strawberry sauce, and, to my surprise:  it was spicy... the kind of spicy that can only come from chile peppers.  It was amazing.  Here's the fun part of the story:  When I asked our waitress about the recipe, she explained that the chef/owner was a Chinese man married to a woman from New Mexico.  It seems he had "fused" an Asian recipe for strawberry chicken with the flavors of the American southwest.  I just love inventive foodie stories like this!

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4  cups coarsely chopped/chunked, fresh strawberries, about 2 pints

2  large, dried guajillo chile peppers, reconstituted, each chopped into 4-6 pieces 

1  teaspoon guajillo chile powder

1  cup sugar

2  tablespoons firmly-packed dark brown sugar

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

1/4  teaspoon ground cayenne pepper 

1  tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon strawberry extract

PICT0018~ Step 1.  Yesterday I posted ~ How to:  Reconstitute Large, Dried Chile Peppers ~ in Categories 13 & 15.  I used guajillo chile peppers for that demonstration and for this recipe you'll need to reconstitute 2 large, guajillo chile peppers. Guajillo chiles are moderately hot with a deep-red flesh and a slight berry flavor to them, which makes them perfect for this sauce!

PICT0002~ Step 2.  Prep the strawberries and guajillo peppers as directed, placing them in a 3 1/2-quart chef's pan as you work.  Add all remaining ingredients as listed.

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PICT0001                                        ~ Step 3. Over no heat,  using a large spoon, stir to combine and continue to stir until the sugars have dissolved and the strawberries have a shiny coating.

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PICT0017Step 4. Bring to a steady simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover and set aside 30-45 minutes. Remove and discard the guajillo chile pepper pieces prior to serving warm or at room temperature:

PICT0026Sweet Heat:  Strawberry & Guajillo Chile Sauce, or:  Summer Strawberries Never Tasted So Good!:  Recipe yields 2 1/2 cups of sauce.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 3 1/2 quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides & lid; large spoon; ladle

PICT0005Cook's Note:  This sauce keeps in the refrigerator for 5-6 weeks and reheats nicely in the microwave.  It also freezes well, which is a great reason to make a double or triple batch to have on hand all year long. Did I forget to mention is tastes great chilled too! 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

05/29/2012

~ How to: Reconstitute Large, Dried Chile Peppers ~

PICT0015At any given moment in Melanie's Kitchen, I have a few to several jars of randomly purchased chile powders or chile blends on my spice rack.  They are all quite good, are marketed by reputable manufacturers and I am thankful for them.  That being said, they do limit me to using whatever each manufacturer has produced or included in their product, as well as what is available to be at my local markets.  I want to point out that using dried powder in the home kitchen is very convenient, and, if used correctly, compromises much less than the "fresh chile pepper purists" want you to believe.  That being said, it helps to know what you're buying.  It's all a matter of knowing the correct spelling and after that, it's all found on the label:  

Is it spelled chile or chili?  It is NOT a regional thing!

PICT0005CHILE:  Spelled with an "e" at the end, refers to the fresh or dried plant or pod or fruit of any member of the pepper family.

CHILI:  Spelled with an "i" at the end, refers to soups, stews and/or sauces made with fresh or dried chile peppers (like the famous chili con carne).

CHILE POWDER:  When spelled with and "e" at the end, means it is a powder made from dried chiles exclusively.  This is sometimes referred to or marketed as POWDERED CHILES.

CHILI POWDER:  When spelled with an "i" at the end, means it is a mixture of ground, dried spices (for example: cumin, garlic, onion) and chile powder. 

PICT0016Many recipes call for using dried chile peppers that have been reconstituted.  There are many types of dried chile peppers available today (not too many to choose from, but too many to mention individually), and, I am not going to delve into specific kinds today.  What I am going to do is show you the proper way to reconstitute the large-sized ones, and, I just happen to have dried guahilla (wah-hee-oh) chiles on-hand, so that is what I am using. These mildly hot, dark red chiles have a leathery skin, which requires a bit longer soaking time than other chiles, making them the perfect guage for this demonstration!

PICT0009Choosing Dried Chile Peppers

When choosing dried chile peppers, whenever possible, pick up the individual peppers, or, give the bag they are packaged in a little squeeze.  Dried chile peppers should be soft and bendable, not hard and brittle.  If they are hard and brittle, they've been sitting around too long and will not reconstitute well.

PICT0018Prepping Dried Chile Peppers

If the peppers you are using are hot, you might want to wear a pair of latex gloves for this part.  Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut the tops off of desired number of peppers. Using the shears, slice lengthwise down the side of each one, and remove each and every seed and any visible rib sections or veins.

PICT0023Dry-Roasting Dried Chile Peppers

Sometimes called "toasting" instead of dry-raosting, this step can be and is often omitted, but it goes a long way to enhance/intensify the flavor of the reconstituted chile peppers. You will need a dry (no oil added) nonstick skillet or griddle, placed over medium heat.

PICT0032I recommend you work in small batches of 2-3 when dry-roasting because each pepper requires close attention.

Place the peppers, opened up like a book, fleshy side down in the hot skillet.  Using the tongs, press down on them in random spots, until they take on an orangey color and have dark spots on them, about 45 seconds.  Flip the peppers over and repeat the process on the skin side.

Note:  Error on the side of under-roasting the peppers as charred or burnt peppers will taste bitter.

PICT0035Reconstituting Dried Chile Peppers

Fill a small 1-2 quart saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Use a larger saucepan if you are reconstituting more than 6-8 peppers.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Add the peppers to the hot water and allow them to soften/reconstitute for about 20-30 minutes.  Drain and use as directed.

Note:  Always discard the bitter soaking water.

PICT0003How to:  Reconstitute Large, Dried Chile Peppers:  Recipe yields instructions for dry-roasting and reconstituting any number and all types of large, dried chile peppers.

Special Equipment List:  kitchen shears; nonstick skillet or griddle; tongs; 1-2-quart saucepan

Cook's Note:  When using reconstituted chile peppers to make sauce, it is customary to puree them with items like grilled onions, roasted garlic, herbs, spices, salt, sometimes sugar and a specified liquid.  In some instances, the sauce then gets strained to remove bits of skin.  Finally, the sauce is placed in a hot skillet with a bit of oil, briefly fried, then gently simmered for 15-30 minutes to bring out its complex flavors.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

05/26/2012

~ It is Memorial Day! Enjoy Your Holiday Weekend! ~

PICT0040Memorial Day is a most special weekend.  It is our country's national day of remembrance for those that have lost their lives in the service of our country.  In my lifetime I've had many relatives and known many friends who have served in the military, but know none that were injured or killed, and, for that I am very grateful.  However you celebrate this holiday, be it a picnic, a parade, or just a cocktail in the shade, I wish you and yours a wonderful, relaxing weekend!

PICT0002Boalsburg, PA:  The Birthplace of Memorial Day!  

Joe and I happen to live right here in Boalsburg.  Our little town is all about this holiday and it is buzzing with activity as I write this.  To learn all about our community's rich history, along with pictures I took of last years downtown events and activities, you can read my commentary: ~ A Most Memorable Memorial Day Weekend ~ in Categories 11 or 16! 

PICT0013Kitchen Encounters will be taking a couple of days off for the long, holiday weekend.  My family will be arriving here shortly, and, we'll be celebrating my parents 59th wedding anniversary, along with our grandson's 5th birthday.  When I return (in just 3-4 days), I'll be dedicating an entire week to cooking and posting recipes and tips about "all things ribs"!  For now:

I wish you all a cheeseburger in paradise!

PICT0046"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipes, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

05/25/2012

~ Culinary Q&A & Kitchen Therapy Too (5/25/12) ~

Culinary Q & A #2It's the end of May and in a few short hours my family will be arriving for the Memorial Day weekend.  My parents will be celebrating their 59th wedding anniversary and our grandson will be celebrating his 5th birthday!

PICT0003JoePa is busy in the backyard inflating and filling a new swimming pool for David and I'm working on his favorite chocolate cake with chocolate frosting to be served with chocolate ice cream.  Amongst other things, ribs are on the menu, and I will be posting my recipes and tips for "all things ribs" after the holiday!

Kitchen Encounters received two great questions this week.  Since they both revolve around the upcoming holiday, let me get them answered ASAP!

PICT0023Q.  Lyle says and asks:  I watched your Tacos al Pastor video, printed out the recipe and plan to make it for Memorial Day.  Mel, my wife Deb dislikes pineapple.  She said she would eat something else, but, I thought it worth asking you to recommend another fruit to use in its place?  Also, can I make the salsa without putting pineapple in it?  Last, how will this recipe turn out if I double the quantity?

PICT0038A.  Kitchen Encounters:   Lyle! That's quite a question.  Tacos al pastor really is "all about the pineapple".  That being said, I'm certain that if you substituted orange juice and orange segments for the pineapple in both the taco and salsa recipes, it'll be a delicous meal. Lastly, I have doubled the recipe, and, cooked the doubled quantity in the electric skillet.  It took a few extra minutes to cook the pork, but it worked perfectly!

For those of you who are looking for a memorable recipe to serve for your Memorial Day holiday, you can find my recipe for ~ Tacos al Pastor: "Shepherd's-Style" Pork Tacos ~ in Categories 2,3, 13 or 19.  The accompanying ~ Pineapple, Avocado, Tomato and Onion Salsa ~ recipe can be found in Categories 1, 4, 8, 10, 13 or 14!

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PICT0002Q.  Lillian says and asks:  We just got a new grill and for the first time we have two side-burners which are located, side-by-side, on one side of the grill.  I want to make breakfast outside for 6-8 people on Sunday morning (Memorial Day weekend).  I have a grill pan, and would now like to buy a griddle so I can cook things like eggs outside. Can you recommend a moderately-priced, good-quality griddle that will stand up to the heat of a gas grill to me?

PICT0061A.  Kitchen Encounters:  Lillian! Congratulations on the new grill!  I don't know "eggsactly" why, but eggs always taste better when made outside!  

The griddle that I like the best (pictured above) is made by Calphalon.  It is hard-anodized and nonstick with a flat surface area of 18" long and 11" wide.  In addition, it also has stay-cool handles and 1" sides, which keep things like melted butter or bacon fat from dripping off the sides and causing flareups.  Because of its size, it is referred to as a "double griddle" and it comfortably cooks 8 eggs, or, 8 sausage patties, or, 16 strips of bacon.  It does a great job of toasting lightly-buttered bagels and/or English muffins too. My husband Joe bought this one about two years ago, at either our local Target or Kohl's and it cost about $50.00!

PICT0101Enjoy your holiday weekend everyone, and once again:  To leave a comment or ask a question, simply click on the blue title of any post, scroll to the end of it and type away... or e-mail me directly!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipes, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

05/24/2012

~ Melanie's Bolognese Sauce & Bolognese Lasagna: Veal & Rosemary-Tomato Cream Sauce & Lasagna~

6a0120a8551282970b0168ebcb6373970cThis is one of my signature recipes.  No, I didn't invent Bolognese sauce or Bolognese lasagna, but, my personal recipe is so special, it will suffice to say:  I do not believe you will find one anywhere that is better than mine.  That is that.  This is a recipe I have never taught in a cooking class.  It is, however, a recipe I have taught to several upscale restaurant chefs, which they have been selling/serving seasonally for more than a few years now.  At The American Ale House & Grill in State College, PA, I'm proud to say it appears on Scott Lucchesi's (the owner's) menu as:

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ScanThis is not a particularly hard recipe to make, but it does take time and patience... and love.  Yes folks, this is a recipe that is actually made with love.  That is that.  Everyone who has ever tried to "dumb it down" or "take a shortcut" has found that out. Like many other things in life, you only get out of something what you put into it, and, this is one such recipe.  I am posting this at an odd time of year, in May and just a few days prior to Memorial Day, because:  Scott has asked me to show his chef at Champs Sports Grill, also located in State College, PA, how I make it this week, so, posting it while I work is what I've decided to do!

Scan 1Proudly,  my recipes are no stranger to Scott's Champs' menus either.  My foodie life here in Happy Valley is really a lot of fun, and, consulting for local restaurants is something I love to do. It's very challenging, and over the years I have easily learned as much as I have shared. Compared to developing a recipe for the home kitchen, to teach in a cooking class, put in a cookbook, or, cook on TV, developing restaurant recipes is a much bigger deal.  For instance: Every restaurant chef has his/her own style, and, every restaurant kitchen, from an equipment standpoint, is different; profit margins, price points and time constraints must be adhered to, and; once the dish is served to customers... it is show time, there is nowhere to run or hide, and, the feedback is immediate!

Scan 1 PICT0014A bit about Bolognese sauce: Known in Italy as "ragu alla Bolognese", it is a meat-based sauce for pasta hailing from Bologna, Italy.  In Bologna itself, it is referred to simply as "ragu". Outside of Italy, particularly in the United States, it often refers to tomato sauce with ground meat (beef or pork) added to it, and, unfortunately, it bears little or no resemblance in taste or texture to real-deal Bolognese.  Ragu alla Bolognese recipes are complex and involve several cooking techniques, including sweating, sauteing and braising.  While Bolognese lends itself well to interpretation (like the addition of pancetta and/or mushrooms), real-deal recipes will be made with lean veal, aromatic vegetables (onion, carrot, celery), a tomato product (fresh, canned or paste), herbs and spices, wine or broth, and, cream.  Because of its chunky texture, Bolognese sauce is typically used to sauce wide pasta shapes, like tagliatelle or pappardelle, and, used to make a luscious, decadent lasagna, called "lasagna alla bolognese"!

PICT0027A bit about lasagna:  Lasagna refers to the wide flat pasta sheets (sometimes with ruffled edges) used to prepare a baked casserole, also referred to as lasagna.  The plural of lasagna is lasagne. Lasagna is made by layering the noodes with various cheeses (usually including mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano) and the cook's choice of any sauce.  There are almost as many variations to this beloved dish as there are cooks.  Once assembled, lasagna is always baked in the oven until bubbly and golden brown. Once the cook decides upon the cheeses, the sauce and the filling, there are only three simple guidelines to preparing a great lasagna:

#1.  Pasta Sheets:  No matter what type of pasta you are using (fresh or dried), undercook them quite a bit because they are going to continue to cook in the oven.  When I am using dried (boxed) pasta, I don't cook them at all and the lasagna comes out perfect every time!

#2.  Sauce:  Keep the sauce in proportion to the pasta.  The pasta is going to absorb quite a bit of sauce as it cooks or continues to cook.  You will need enough sauce to keep your lasagna from being dry, but on the other hand, you do not want it to be swimming in sauce when served.  The general rule is to use about 1 1/2-2 quarts of sauce for 8-12 ounces of pasta!

#3. Assembly:  If you have boiled your pasta, make sure it is patted dry prior to assembling the lasagna.  If you've made your sauce ahead of time, make sure it is warm when you are assembling your lasagna.  Dry, water-free pasta + warm sauce = success!

Part 1.  Making the Bolognese Sauce 

PICT0006For the Bolognese Sauce (yields 4 1/2 quarts/enough for two lasagne):

PICT00166  pounds coarsely-ground, lean veal (Note:  I can't begin to stress enough how important this grind of meat is to this recipe.  Coarsely -gound veal produces the perfect texture for this sauce.  Request that your butcher coarsely grind a veal shoulder roast for you.)

1/2  cup olive oil

12-16 ounces diced yellow or sweet onion

12-16 ounces diced celery

12-16  ounces peeled and diced carrots

1-1 1/2 ounces diced garlic cloves

1/2  teaspoon ground nutmeg

1  teaspoon dried rosemary leaves

1  tablespoon sea salt

1  tablespoon white pepper

1  cup white wine

4  14 1/2-ounce cans diced tomatoes, undrained

1  6-ounce can tomato paste

4  cups heavy or whipping cream

6  6-inch fresh rosemary sprigs

PICT0006~ Step 1.  Place olive oil in a 14" chef's pan.  Prep and place the onion, celery, carrots and garlic in the pan as you work.  Add the nutmeg, rosemary, salt and white pepper.  Adjust heat to saute, until the onion is just short of beginning to brown and no liquid remains in the bottom of pan, about 10-15 minutes.

PICT0009~ Step 2.  Add the veal and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until almost all of the veal's liquid has evaporated from the pan and the veal is just short of beginning to brown, about 30-45 minutes. 

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PICT0018~ Step 3. Add the wine and continue to cook until it too has evaporated from bottom of pan, about 2-3 minutes.

Note:  In all three of the above steps, the evaporation of liquid is more important than the time it takes for that to happen!

PICT0025 PICT0023~ Step 4. Add all of the diced tomatoes and the tomato paste to the pan.  Add 2 cups of the cream.  Stir until the tomato paste is thoroughly incorporated and the mixture is a creamy pink-orange in color.  Adjust heat to a gently, steady simmer.

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PICT0029~ Step 5. Place the rosemary sprigs on top of the mixture.  Adjust heat to barely simmer, partially cover the pan and continue to cook until the rosemary has lost its bright green color, about 10-15 minutes.  Uncover and discard the rosemary.  This process will allow the rosemary to impart its flavor into the sauce without overpowering it.

PICT0051~ Step 6.  Add the remaining two cups of cream, stir thoroughly, and adjust heat to a gentle, steady simmer.  The pan will be very full.

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~ Step 7.  Continue to simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, until the mixture is nicely thickened and reduced slightly, about 45-60 minutes, or longer.  Remove from heat, cover the pan and allow to steep, 45-60 minutes.

~ Step 8:  Serve immediately over wide pasta topped with a sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or, refrigerate and/or freeze for use at a later date:

Note:  Refrigerated sauce keeps well for 3-4 days.  Return to room temperature and reheat gently, until steaming (not simmering), in the microwave or on the stovetop, prior to serving over pasta or making lasagna (as directed below).

PICT0009Part Two:  Making the Bolognese Lasagna

  PICT0005For the lasagna (yields 2, 13" x 9" x 2" lasagne):

Sliced vs. grated cheese:  I do not use grated cheese when I make lasagna.  Sliced cheese eliminates airspace that grated cheese creates, which makes for a prettier lasagna.  Because the thickness of the cheese does matter, politely ask your deli-person to "slice the cheese as thinly as possible, without the slices breaking or crumbling, and, stack the slices neatly"!

PICT00131 1/2  pounds thinly-sliced Cooper CV sharp cheese, or white American cheese (Note:  If you live near Amish country, the northeastern United States, or more specifically, in Lehigh Valley, PA, you grew up like I did, eating Cooper CV instead of white American cheese.  This rectangular-shaped cheese is almost identical to square-shaped white American cheese, but melts creamier and has a delightful sharp, tangy flavor.)

1 1/2  pounds thinly-sliced provolone cheese

1 1/2  pounds thinly-sliced mozzarella cheese

1  cup finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

2  tablespoons dried rosemary leaves

1  1-pound box ruffled-edge lasagna, uncooked

Note:  As I stated above, this recipe is written to make two lasagne.  The following pictures of the assembly process only picture one.  Just place two, 13" x 9" x 2" casserole dishes side-by-side and assemble them both, simultaneously, as directed below:

PICT0003~ Step 1.  Spoon a thin, even layer of sauce in bottom of casserole dish.

 

 

 

PICT0009~ Step 2.  Place 4 lasagna over sauce.  Break 1 to fit in empty space.

 

 

 

PICT0013~ Step 3.  Arrange a layer of Cooper CV cheese slices over the lasagna.

 

 

 

PICT0019~ Step 4.  Arrange a layer of provolone slices over the CV.

 

 

 

PICT0022~ Step 5.  Arrange a layer of mozzarella slices over the provolone.

 

 

 

PICT0027~ Step 6.  Spoon another layer of sauce over the cheeses.

 

 

 

PICT0037~ Step 7.  Sprinkle grated Parmigiano-Reggiano over sauce.

 

 

 

PICT0040~ Step 8.  Arrange a second layer of lasagna in the dish and repeat the above process (a second layer of cheeses, a third layer of meat and a sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano).  Sprinkle dried rosemary over all.

 

 

PICT0050Note:  the lasagna/lasagne are now ready for the oven or the freezer, or: they can be refrigerated overnight, returned to room temperature and baked the next day.  Refrigerating overnight prior to baking is best.

PICT0008~ Step 9.  Cover lasagna with a piece of aluminum foil that has been sprayed with no-stick cooking spray.  Place the foil, sprayed side down, over lasagna and cover tightly.

Bake on center rack of 350 degree oven 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake an additional 35-45 minutes, or until browned and bubbly.  Remove from oven and rest, 45-60 minutes, prior to slicing and serving... 45 minutes if you want to eat your lasagna at that "ooey-gooey" stage, or, 60 minutes if you want nicer, neater slices and a more refined presentation:

PICT0023Melanie's Bolognese Sauce & Bolognese Lasagna:  Veal & Rosemary-Tomato Cream Sauce & Lasagna:  Recipe yields 4 1/2 quarts Bolognese sauce, and, 2 lasagne with 8-12 servings each.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 14" chef's pan w/straight, deep sides & lid, or 8-quart stockpot; large spoon or spatula; 2, 13" x 9" x 2" casserole dishes; aluminum foil

6a0120a8551282970b0162ff5a0b7c970d-800wiCook's Note:  To try another another one of my lasagna recipes, you can find ~ Jesse's E-Z Spatini Lasagna (& Mrs. Dicindio) ~ in Categories 3, 12, 14, 19, 20 or 22.  This lasagna is a much easier recipe than the one I've shared with you today.  It is ready to go in the oven in about an hour but compromises nothing in flavor or texture! 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

05/21/2012

~ A Simple, Summertime Treat: Pineapple Cobbler ~

PICT0008When I think of warm and comforting fruit cobbler, I don't usually associate it with Spring or early Summer, and, pineapple is not the first fruit that pops into my mind when it comes to making cobbler.  In fact, it has never occurred to me to make cobbler with pineapple.  That said, Kitchen Encounters has been paying tribute to pineapple recipes all week, and, I just happened to have a nice-sized bowl of fresh pineapple chunks leftover in my refrigerator.  It was my intention to eat it "as is" for a snack today with some strawberries (which are also leftover). Alas, yesterday's sunshine and warm temperatures turned into today's rain and downright sheatshirt-wearing weather.  Yesterday, my ice-cold pineapple would have been refreshing -- today "not so much".  

Today is what I call a "preheat the oven day".

PICT0016And so it began -- the pondering.  What could I QUICKLY make with pineapple that would be warm and comforting (with "quickly" being the operative word).  My schedule for this upcoming week is full, plus, the fast approaching Memorial Day weekend (and my grandson David's fifth birthday) to get ready for too.  Pineapple upside down cake immediately came to mind, but my pineapple was in chunks (not pretty slices), and, my grandmother's pineapple upside down cake is a special recipe that I want to give ample time to writing.  Then, another one of her recipes came to mind:  peach cobbler.  It's super easy and super delicious, but, would it work using pineapple instead of peaches?  Well, it obviously did because I'm writing this post.

PICT0004A bit about cobbler:  Cobbler is almost always associated with a baked, deep-dish fruit or berry dessert that emerges from the oven with a semi-crispy, biscuit-like top that has been made (depending upon where you are from and who taught you how to make cobbler) with a batter, a biscuit dough, or a pastry. Cobbler recipes have been printed in European cookbooks since the early 19th century and started out as main-dish, protein-based meals. Residents of our Southern States claim cobblers to be their own, which, sorry folks, is not true.  Cobblers in the US originated in the Colonies because the English settlers were unable to make their suet puddings for lack of ingredients and equipment.  The name is said to derive from the finished product taking on the appearance of a cobbled street. 

PICT0006For preparing the pan and the batter:

4  ounces salted butter, melted and slightly cooled, for preparing pan

1  cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1  cup sugar

1  tablespoon baking powder

1/2  teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4  teaspoon salt

3/4  cup milk

2  teaspoons coconut extract, for pineapple cobbler only (optional)

2  teaspoons pure vanilla extract, not imitation

For the fruit and topping:

3-4  cups fresh pineapple chunks, or peeled and sliced fresh peaches

1/2  cup firmly-packed dark brown sugar

PICT0004 PICT0003~ Step 1.  In an 8" x 8" x 2" baking dish, melt the butter. Tilt the dish to coat the bottom with the melted butter.  Set aside.

Note:  Pineapple contains enzymes that react with metal.  For best results, use glass baking dishes when baking with pineapple.

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~ Step 2.  In a large mixing bowl, using a large rubber spatula, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

PICT0014~ Step 3. Add the milk and extracts. Fold until a smooth batter forms. This will take less than 1 minute.

PICT0024 PICT0017~ Step 4. Pour batter into baking dish, right on top of the butter.  Do not stir batter into butter.

~ Step 5.  Spoon/distribute the pineapple evenly over the over the batter and sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the pineapple.

~ Step 6.  Bake on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven 40-45 minutes.  During this time, the fruit is going to sink to the bottom of the baking dish and the batter is going to bubble and bake up to the surface in random spots.  The cobbler will be golden brown and will spring back slightly when touched in the center. Serve, hot, warm, or at room temperature (warm is best): 

PICT0012A Simple, Summertime Treat:  Pineapple Cobbler:  Recipe yields 6-8 servings.

Special Equipment List:  8" x 8" x 2" baking dish, preferably glass; cutting board; chef's knife; large rubber spatula; 1-cup measuring container

PICT0003Cook's Note:  In the past, cobbler, to me, denoted a warm dessert on a cool Fall or cold Winter evening. My friends, I am here to tell you: pineapple cobbler is the perfect ending to any Spring-Summer tropical-themed get-together.  When I told Joe what he was having for dessert tonight, he came home with the perfect ice cream to top it with too!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

05/19/2012

~ Pina Colada + Strawberry Daiquiri = Lava Flow ~

PICT0005If you've been following Kitchen Encounters this past week, you've noticed that it's been "feature the pineapple week".  Yes folks, right here in Central Pennsylvania, my husband Joe managed to grow three gorgeous pineapples (in large pots on our deck), which were all ripe and ready to harvest.  Using them as my inspiration, I started by my making my ~ Pineapple, Avocado, Tomato and Onion Salsa ~, which can be found in Categories 1, 8, 10, 13 or 14!  

PICT0009I used the salsa as my topping for a very old and special Mexican recipe:  ~ Tacos al Pastor (Shepherd's-Style Tacos) ~. Tacos al pastor, which features thinly shaved pork and grilled pineapple in a spicy adobo sauce, is a very unique recipe and I'm proud to have developed a delicious version that can be made in the home kitchen. My recipe can be found in Categories 3, 13 and 19, plus, you can watch me make it this Sunday morning on my Kitchen Encounters cooking segment on WHVL-TV's Centre of it all show (local Comcast channel 14 at 11:30AM)!

Pineapple week deserves 3 great Summertime cocktails!

A bit about the pina colada:  This  is the king of tropical drinks, and, is the official drink of Puerto Rico.  In Spanish, "pina" means "pineapple", and, "colada" means "strained".  Stories about its origin date back to the 1800's, when Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Cofresi served his crew a mixture of coconut, pineapple and rum to boost morale.  The widely accepted version of its origin is:  In 1954, the management of San Jan's Beachcomber Bar requested bartender, Ramon Marrero, to create a drink to serve to visiting celebrities.  He sold his first pina colada on August 15, 1954, and, in 1978, the Coco Lopez company presented Mr. Marrero with an award for selling the three-millionth pina colada!

PinaColada-xlThe original recipe consisted of strained, fresh pineapple juice, coconut cream  and white rum, garnished with a pineapple wedge and a maraschino cherry.  Pina coladas can be served shaken or blended, but my hands-down favorite is the  "blended to a smoothie state" kind.  On a side note:  I do not care for versions that substitute coconut milk for coconut cream, or, include condensed milk, which tends to make the drink overly sweet!

StrawberryDaiquiri_400x400A bit about the daiquiri/strawberry daiquiri:  Named for Daiquiri, a village in Cuba, it is said to have been developed by American contractors taking advantage of abundant supplies of rum, sugar and citrus juice (the basis for this cocktail).  Over time, the drink was mixed with shaved ice, to cut its sweetness.  Nowadays, the daiquiri is mostly associated with the frozen daiquiri, which includes fruit or frozen fruit in the mixture (with bananas and strawberries being the most common)!

The Hawaiian Lava Flow Cocktail!

This is probably my all-time favorite frozen drink cocktail.  Why?  Because it combines my two favorite Summertime cocktails into one totally awesome tropical drink:  The pina colada and the strawberry daiquiri. If you've ever traveled to Hawaii (and you drink), you've no doubt had a few of these cocktails.  It is named "lava flow" because when white pina colada mixture gets added to the red strawberry daiguiri mixture, the strawberry mixture bubbles up into the drink, resembling the lava flowing off of The Big Island into the Pacific ocean (which is a beautiful sight).  It's "artsy" to look at and easy to prepare too, with the only trick being:  blend the two mixtures separately, rinsing out the blender in between steps one and two!

PICT0004For best results, get the hardware in place before measuring the liquids and prepping the fruit.

For the hardware

blender

1-2-ounce cocktail measure (for measuring liquids)

1-cup dry measure (for measuring diced fruits)

2-cup measuring container w/pourer spout, preferably freezer safe

cutting board

paring knife or chef's knife

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For the pina colada mixture (yields 1 quart/4, 8 ounce pina coladas):

3  cups ice cubes

2  ounces coconut rum

2  ounces light rum

3  ounces pineapple juice

4  tablespoons cream of coconut

juice from 1/2 lime

1  cup sliced banana, nicely ripened/slighly soft is best, about 1 large banana or 1 1/2 small bananas

1  generous cup medium-diced pineapple

For the strawberry daiquiri mixture (yields 1 1/2 cups/2, 6 ounce strawberry daiquiries):

1  cup ice cubes

2  ounces light rum, or coconut rum (Note:  I use coconut rum to make the lava flow cocktail.)

juice from 1/2 lime

1/2  teaspoon sugar

1  generous cup sliced strawberries

For the garnishes:

pineapple wedges, sliced strawberries and/or sliced bananas

PICT0007~ Step 1.  Place all of the ingredients for the strawberry daiquiri mixture in blender.  Blend at high speed, until thick and smooth, about 15 seconds. Transfer to measuring container and place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes, while:

PICT0014~ Step 2. In blender, place all ingredients for the pina colada mixture. Blend at high speed, until thick and smooth, about 15-30 seconds.

PICT0037 PICT0017~ Step 3.  Remove the strawberry mixture from the freezer and divide it evenly into the bottom of 4 glasses.  

~ Step 4.  Add the pina colada mixture to each glass.  Garnish each cocktail with fruit(s) of choice, and, don't forget the paper umbrella!

PICT0015

 

Pina Colada + Strawberry Daiquiri = Lava Flow:  Recipe yields 4, 12-ounce lava flow cocktails, or, 2, 2-ounce strawberry daiquiries, or, 4, 8-ounce pina coladas!

Special Equipment List:  blender; 1-2-ounce cocktail measure; 1-cup dry measure; 2-cup measuring container w/pourer spout; cutting board; paring knife or chef's knife

6a0120a8551282970b014e8923e0b0970d-800wiCook's Note:  For another one of my favorite Summertime cocktail recipes, read ~ June 15th:  It's Time for "Mel's Big Pink Drinks" ~ in Categories 10, 11, 16 or 17.  Summer is definitely the time to get creative with cocktails.  For more ideas, click on the Related Article links below!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

05/18/2012

~ Kitchen Encounters/WHVL Video Segment #25: Mel's Tribute to the Pineapple: Tacos al Pastor ~

PICT0009Yesterday I posted my recipe for ~ Tacos al Pastor:  "Shepherd's-Style" Pork Tacos ~, which can be found in Categories 2, 3, 13 or 19.  These amazing tacos are topped with my recipe for ~ Pineapple, Avocado, Tomato and Onion Salsa ~, which you can find in Categories 1, 4, 8, 10, 13 or 14!

If you'd like to watch my Kitchen Encounters TV segment, just click on the following link:

Tacos al Pastor

To watch all of my other Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV cooking segments, go to the listing found on the left side of the home page of this blog, and, click on the blue title of any one, or:

Tune in to WHVL-TV's Centre of It All Show, which airs every Sunday morning at 11:30AM on local Comcast channel 14!

************

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary, Photo & Video courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

05/17/2012

~ Tacos al Pastor: "Shepherd's-Style" Pork Tacos ~

PICT0009It's a beautiful Spring day here in Happy Valley, and, today, I'm paying tribute to the pineapple!!!

PICT0005Meet my husband's pineapple(s)!  

Yes folks, right here in Centre County Pennsylvania, my husband Joe managed to grow three pineapples.  It took a while, seven years, but this week, they are finally ripe and ready to pick.  We sliced and ate the first one immediately.  I liken the experience to picking a perfectly ripe tomato from the vine and savoring is juicy, fresh, sundrenched goodness, plus: it tastes even better if your grew it yourself!

PICT0033Yesterday, with the second pineapple, I made and posted my recipe for ~ Pineapple, Avocado, Tomato and Onion Salsa ~, which you can find in Categories 1, 4, 8, 10, 13 or 14!  

Today, I'm going to be using this salsa as a topping on an old and famous Mexican recipe: tacos al pastor, featuring our pineapple #3!

 

American Tacos vs. Traditional Mexican Tacos, and:

Tacos al Pastor!

ImagesWith the exception of a few of our Southwestern states, tacos in Mexico are nothing like the tacos found in the United States.  You'll not find them made with ground "mystery" meats or loaded up with toppings like iceberg lettuce, sour cream and a ketchup-like salsa that comes three ways:  mild, medium or hot.  They won't contain processed American "cheesefeed" or be served on "cardboardlike" taco shells either!

PFO2861In Mexican towns and cities, Mexico City for example, right around the time the sun sets, taquerias (taco shops) open their doors and taqueros (taco vendors) start serving thinly sliced or shredded marinated meats hot off of their large grill tables, or,  larger cuts of meat which they have been roasting or spit-roasting for most of the day.  Meat is the shining star of the "Mexican Taco Show".  It gets heaped into a freshly-made, warm, sometimes grilled, corn or flour tortilla.  Depending on what meat filling you choose, your tacos will be served topped with a savory or sweet salsa or sauce that complements the meat perfectly!

Tacos_al_pastorTacos al pastor is a unique and wonderful Mexican experience.  If you ever have the opportunity to be in a taqueria with a trompo (which means "spinning top" and is a vertical rotisserie,) do not, I repeat, do not, pass up the chance to try these.  Thin slices of spicy marinated pork are stacked on a vertical spit in front of an open flame.  The taquero shaves caramelized outer layers of meat onto corn tortillas along with thin slices of similarly grilled pineapple.  Onions, cilanto and fresh lime juice are the traditional toppings.  Taqueros, I might add, work swiftly and precisely.  This is the "Ultimate Taco Show"!

SandwichTacos al pastor ("al pastor" means "shepherd's-style") is a spin-off off the Middle Eastern gyro (pronounced zheer-oh).  "Pastor" was the nickname given to Lebanese businessmen who immigrated into Mexico over a century ago.  Along with these Lebanese merchants, came Lebanese street vendors, who brought their method of cooking lamb on a vertical spit with them.  Over a few decades, one thing led to the next:  The Mexican people substituted pork for the lamb and their own Mexican spice blends and marinades replaced traditional Lebanese ones. Lastly, corn and flour tortillas replaced pita bread, and, tacos al pastor was born!

My "ah ha" Moment, and:  Tacos al Pastor a la Mel!

PICT0018In the case of a recipe like this, one that revolves around a specific cooking method and a specialized piece of equipment (a vertical rotisserie), realistically attempting to duplicate it in the home kitchen would be futile, if not impossible, and, the result would be somewhat disappointing.  When I am faced with developing a recipe such as this, first, I ask myself what I, personally, want from it, then, take it from there.  In the case of tacos al pastor, I wanted:  authentic flavor as well as moist, tender, juicy meat with a bit of caramelization on the outside.  Next, I ponder the cooking methods available to me (and you). Roasting and grilling were both obvious, viable options. Roasting (a long and slow method) and grilling (a short and fast method), both produced nice caramelization on the outside of the meat, but, in both cases, the meat was too dry to suit me.  Then, the Asian stir-fry method of cooking occurred to me!  Ah-Ha!!!

PICT0005The electric skillet!  

This reasonably priced and often forgotten countertop appliance is capable of 400 degrees of controllable heat, plus, has a big enough surface area to quickly sear and cook the meat evenly!

PICT0017I seared my thinly-sliced pork tenderloin, along with its spicy marinade, in this hot skillet (to get a bit of crunchy texture on the outside), then, I lowered the heat to cook it briefly, about 6 minutes (to lock all the juices in the inside)... this was everything I could have hoped for!

PICT0029The Recipe!

~ Step 1.  Rinse, pat dry, and slice/shave, as thinly as possible, to a thickness of 1/4" or less:

2  pounds pork tenderloin

Place the meat in a 1-gallon size food storage bag as you work.  Set aside.

PICT0035~ Step 2.  Peel and slice/shave, as thinly as possible, 1/8" or less:

8  ounces yellow or sweet onion

PICT0002Place in the food storage bag with the pork as you work.  Now it's time to make the marinade:

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1  tablespoon guajillo (gwa-hee-oh) chile powder

2  teaspoons ground cumin

2  teaspoons Mexican oregano

1/2  teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2  teaspoon garlic powder

1/4  teaspoon ground cloves

1/2  teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

1  teaspoon coarse sea salt

2-3  chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce, plus, 2-3  tablespoons adobo sauce (about 1/2 of an 11-ounce can)

1  6-ounce can pineapple juice

2  teaspoons white vineger

PICT0012~ Step 3.  Place all of the ingredients, as listed in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  With motor running, process until smooth, about 1 minute.

PICT0008

 

 

 

~  Step 4.  Transfer the marinade to the pork/onion mixture, seal the bag and toss to thoroughly coat.

PICT0009Refrigerate 2-4 hours or up to 8. Return to room temp, 1-2 hours, prior to cooking.

PICT0014 PICT0017~ Step 5. While pork is marinating, slice:

1 whole, fresh pineapple

In a grill pan or on the barbecue, grill, just until grill marks appear, turning only once, about 2 minutes per side.  Cool to room temperature, then, dice into bite-sized pieces.

PICT0008~ Step 6.  In an electric skillet, heat to 400 degrees:

1/4 cup corn oil

Add the meat mixture and all of its marinade.  Saute/stir-fry, for about 1 minute.  Lower the temperature to 350 degrees and continue to cook for 5-6 minutes, until just cooked through.  Do not overcook.

PICT0015Step 7.  Reduce heat to 325 degrees.  Add the diced, grilled pineapple.  Stir until pineapple is just heated through, 1-2 additional minutes.  Do not overcook.  

Each taco al pastor is traditionally served on two warm or lightly-grilled (pliable) corn tortillas, which soak up excess juice, and, are garnished simply, with some cilantro and lime juice, or, better yet, with my salsa (pictured above): 

PICT0023

 

PICT0014Tacos al Pastor:  "Shepherd's-Style" Pork Tacos:  Recipe yields filling for 12-16 tacos and 1 cup of marinade. Note: This marinade can be used to make other Mexican dishes as well. Try marinating steak or chicken strips in it the next time you're in the mood for fajitas!

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 1-gallon food storage bag; food processor; electric skillet; grill pan or barbecue grill; spatula; tongs

PICT0010Cook's Note:  Chipotle chile peppers are smoked and dried jalapeno peppers, which is why you don't see me adding any fresh jalapenos to this dish.  Adobo sauce is a spicy tomato-vinegar based sauce made from garlic, herbs and spices, plus, ground chile peppers. Guajillo chile peppers are much milder than jalapenos and have a fruity, almost berry taste to them. Guajillo chile powder, as well as dried guajillo chile peppers are both available on the internet.  They are inexpensive and I recommend adding them to your spice rack or pantry! 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

05/15/2012

~ Pineapple, Avocado, Tomato and Onion Salsa!!! ~

PICT0038Seven year ago, uh, seven long years ago, my husband Joe sliced the tops off of three grocery-store-bought pineapples.  He planted them in large pots.  He brought them indoors, into our heated garage, for the Winter, which as they grew was quite a chore.  He pampered and spoiled them outdoors through the Pennsylvania Spring, Summer and Fall seasons.  For seven years, I have complained vehemently about the space these massive, heavy plants take up, not to mention the mess created by the amount of water they require and drainage they produce. Today, with three happy, healthy, homegrown, perfectly-ripe pineapples to harvest and enjoy, I make a sincere apology to my husband:

"You really can grow pineapples in Pennsylvania!"

PICT0003As for the first pineapple, we ate that one, just as it was, and, it was the best pineapple we ever tasted. It might have been the best pineapple we ever tasted because he grew it, but I don't think so.  Like any other vine- or tree-ripened fruit, eating it right after picking, especially if it is from your own backyard (or deck in this case) is a cathartic experience!

As for this second pineapple, today's pineapple, I have decided to share one of my favorite salsa recipes with you.  This salsa is going to be the topping for my next blog post ~ Taco's al Pastor: "Shepherd's-Style" Pork Taco's~, which will be found in Categories 2, 3, 13 or 19. This old and famous Mexican dish, pork marinated in a spicy pineapple-adobe sauce is one you won't want to miss!

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3  cups medium-diced pineapple (1, large pineapple)

1 1/2  cups medium-diced Hass avocado, (2 Hass avocados)

1  1/2  cups medium-diced tomato (how many will depend on the size of the tomatoes)

3/4  cup finely-diced red onion (1/2-1 onion depending on its size)

3/4  cup minced cilantro leaves

1  jalapeno pepper, seeds and rib sections removed, minced (optional)

3  tablespoons fresh lime juice (1 1/2-2 limes)

1  teaspoon fine sea salt

  6a0120a8551282970b01538f6da0b2970b-320wi 6a0120a8551282970b01543340f918970c-120wi~ Step 1.  If you don't have a pineapple slicer, which is a nifty, inexpensive gadget that makes short work of getting a pineapple sliced and cored ($20.00):

Using a large chef's knife, remove the top and bottom from the pineapple.  Slice down the sides to remove the tough skin.  After that, using a paring knife, be sure to remove all of the brown, nubbly spots.  Slice the pineapple into 1/2"-3/4" slices and dice the slices into bite-sized 1/2"-3/4" pieces.  That being said, if you want to buy a whole fresh pineapple at your market that has been pre-peeled and cored, you have my blessing.  Place the diced pineapple in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

PICT0017~ Optional Step.  I love grilled pineapple, and, I love this salsa made with grilled pineapple.  If you do too, grill the pineapple slices on both sides, turning only once, just until grill marks appear, about 2 minutes per side.  Remove from grill and let cool prior to dicing and adding to the salsa.  Proceed with the rest of this recipe as directed.

6a0120a8551282970b0154332f91e4970c-320wi~ Step 2.  A perfectly ripe avocado will be slightly soft, yield to gentle palm pressure and literally, cut like butter.  Slice the avocados in half working your way around the pit. Separate the two halves with a gentle twist.  The pit is cleanly and easily removed by holding the pitted half of the avocado securely in the palm of your hand.  Using a chef's knife, give the pit a somewhat forceful tap with the center of the knife blade.  One gentle twist of the knife and the pit is out.

6a0120a8551282970b014e894fa38b970d-320wiTo quickly cube a pitted avocado, for applications like this salsa: Simply score the soft flesh into desired sized cubes and scoop them out with an ordinary tablespoon.  

Note:  If you are not using your avocado immediately, make sure you brush, squirt and/or toss it with fresh lime juice to delay discoloring (turning grayish-brown) for up to an hour.

Add the cubed avocado pieces to the diced pineapple in the mixing bowl.

PICT0026

 

~ Step 3.  Prep the tomato, onion, cilantro and optional jalapeno pepper as directed, placing each in a large mixing bowl as you work. Add the lime juice and sea salt. Give the mixture a quick stir.  While the salsa is technically ready to eat, it is even better if covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated 1-2 hours prior to serving: 

PICT0029

 

 

Pineapple, Avocado, Tomato and Onion Salsa!!!:  Recipe yields 6 cups of salsa.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; paring knife; pineapple slicer (optional); tablespoon; large spoon; plastic wrap

6a0120a8551282970b014e8960cdd8970d-800wiCook's Note:  For another great salsa made with fresh pineapple, try ~ My Sweet 'n Spicy Summer Tropical Fruit Salsa ~, which can be found in Categories 1, 4, 8, 10, 13 & 14!

6a0120a8551282970b015433345133970c-800wiYou can find my recipe for ~ Holy Guacamole!  It's the First Day of Summer! + (Everything You Need to Know about the Avocado!) ~ in Categories 1, 4, 8, 10, 13, 14 or 15!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

05/12/2012

~ My Mother's Day Tradition: Buttermilk Pancakes ~

IMG_3636Happy Mother's Day to all of you great-grandmothers, grandmothers, mothers, stepmothers and/or soon to be mothers.  Mother's Day typically denotes a day of rest and relaxation for mom to spend in any manner that makes her happy.  When my boys were young, we usually celebrated Mother's Day with Joe either cooking dinner for the family, or, taking the family out for dinner.  This year will be no exception.  That being said, I like my Mother's Day to start with a pancake breakfast.  Why?  When I was growing up, on Mother's Day, my dad took the family to Leiby's Restaurant in South Tamaqua for a special pancake breakfast celebration.  Leiby's was a dairy as well and they made their own ice cream too.  We four ate:  buttermilk pancakes plus a scoop of homemade ice cream with fresh strawberry topping and real-deal whipped cream for Mother's Day breakfast!  What's not to love about that!

Leibys-sign-1aLeiby's Restaurant and Ice Cream House was founded in 1965 and closed its doors in 2007.  It was a family restaurant where kids loved to go, and, as teenagers, a parent-approved hangout.  A lot of my friends waited tables there during our high school years.  While the food was very good, the desserts made the place famous.  They had a four-sided rotating billboard that advertised their ice-cream flavors of the day!

Leibys_front1I couldn't tell you how many "Atomic" sundaes I "split" with friends over the years (a banana split containing 32 ounces of ice cream piled high with toppings).  Leiby's pies were legendary.  They were sold out of a "pie room" (containing nothing but pies) and at Christmastime, a section of the restaurant was cordoned off just for pies awaiting pick-up! 

427799_414276681926183_266484180038768_84797530_1016312036_nHaving grown up with that tradition, when I became a mother it was impossible for me to disassociate myself from pancakes on Mother's Day.  That being said, Leiby's pancake breakfast would have been a mighty tough act to follow if I did not have my grandmother's (and mother's) awesome recipe for scratch-made buttermilk pancakes in my recipe box.  They are light and fluffy with crispy edges, and, easy to make too.  Kids love 'em!

The truth be told, in my house, my traditional Mother's Day pancake breakfast gets made by me, but that my choice.  It's a happy day and these pancakes are a great way to start the celebration... and pass on the tradition!

PICT00011 3/4  cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1/4  cup unbleached, white, whole wheat flour

4  tablespoons sugar

2  teaspoons baking bowder

1  teaspoon baking soda

1  teaspoon fine sea salt

2  1/2  cups buttermilk

4  tablespoons salted butter, melted and cooled slightly (1/2 stick)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2  large eggs, at room temperature, separated

sliced bananas and/or strawberries, or, blueberries, blackberries and/or raspberries, or, chocolate chips and/or cinnamon chips (optional additions) 

corn or peanut oil, for frying pancakes

  PICT0002 PICT0007~ Step 1. Place the butter in a small bowl or ramekin and melt it in the microwave.  Set aside, to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.  

~ Step 2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the two flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  

Note: The dry mixture can be mixed one or two days in advance and stored in a tightly sealed food storage container or zip top bag.  How convenient is that!

PICT0004~ Step 3.  In a medium-mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, vanilla and egg yolks.  Set aside.

PICT0001~ Step 4.  In a small mixing bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form, about 1-1 1/2 minutes.  Set aside.

PICT0012~ Step 5.  Using a rubber spatula, fold the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture, until just combined. Do not overwork the mixture.  The batter will seem somewhat thick, but, airy and spoonable. 

~  Step 6.  Gently fold the egg whites into the flour/buttermilk mixture.  Again, do not overwork the mixture.

~ Step 7.  In an electric skillet, heat a thin coating of oil to 325 degrees.  This would be medium-low heat if your making them in a conventional skillet on the stovetop.  Note:  I really prefer to use an electric skillet to cook pancakes because it is super-easy to constantly control the heat!

PICT0044 PICT0018~ Step 8. Using a 4-ounce (1/2 cup) ladle as a measure, add the batter for two pancakes to the pan and spread it around a bit to form two 5" pancakes.

PICT0046

~ Step 9. If you want to add any fruit, berries, or chocolate chips to your pancakes, now is the time to place them on the top.   PICT0060Cook until golden on both sides, turning only once, about 2 1/2 minutes on first side and 2 minutes on second side.  It is time to flip the pancakes over when bubbles appear on the surface of the first side.  

PICT0050~ Step 10.  Repeat this process three more times, until all pancakes are cooked, adding a bit of additional oil (2-3 tablespoons) to the pan as necessary.

Note:  When extra oil is added to the pan, bring it up to temperature (325 degrees) before adding more pancake batter to it.

IMG_3618My Mother's Day Tradition:  Buttermilk Pancakes:  Recipe yields 8, 6" pancakes or 2-4 servings.

Special Equipment List:  whisk; hand-held electric mixer; rubber spatula; electric skillet or large nonstick skillet; 4-ounce ladle; spatula

IMG_3622Cook's Note:  The stack of pancakes pictured here today are topped with my ~ Orange Cinnamon & Vanilla Bean Breakfast Butter ~.  This super-flavorful compound butter is super-easy to make, and, I make it a couple of times a year and keep in on hand in my freezer.  You can find the recipe by clicking into Categories 4, 8, 20 or 22!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

05/10/2012

~ Fresh Chives: The 1st Herb of Our Spring Garden ~

PICT2736As far back as I can remember, freshly-picked chives meant Spring had arrived and Summer was right around the corner.  My dad had quite a large vegetable garden back then, and, he loved chives.  My mom always stirred them into mashed potatoes and sprinkled them on top of baked potatoes.  To this day, mashed or baked potatoes without chives seem naked to me.  As soon as I was old enough to play with scissors, on almost a daily basis, my mom would say, "go down to daddy's garden and snip me some chives for supper".  I loved their pretty purple-pink flowers, and, as a child, it seemed very unfair that my mom didn't much like them after they bloomed, the sign that chives are past their prime.  That being said, bees love those pretty pink flowers, so I was very careful to never get close enough to pick them for a bouquet!

PICT2735A bit about chives:  Chives are hearty perennials belonging to the same family as onions, leeks and garlic.  In French cuisine, chives are one of the "fines herbes", along with tarragon, chervil and/or parsley. They grow in clumps from underground bulbs, getting to be 10"-20" tall, and, if not cut for culinary use, produce large, round, edible, flowers.  This fragrant, mild-onion-flavored herb has slender, tubular stems/leaves which resemble hollow blades of grass when young/tender, and, green scallion tops when mature/woody.  

PICT2743Chives are at their best when they are young and tender, about 6"-8" tall, and, to harvest them, using a pair of scissors, simply cut the leaves about 2" from their base.  Chives are also at their best when used fresh as a garnish, but are delicious added to all sorts of cooked dishes (soups, sauces, vegetables) too.  That being said, they should be added or stirred in at the end of any cooking process as they lose their flavor with prolonged cooking.  I particularly love them stirred into and used as a garnish on potato pancakes!

PICT2732Great News!  Fresh chives can be frozen!

While I love fresh chives, I do not like dried chives at all, and, I do not recommend wasting time drying them or buying dried chives.  Fresh chives are super easy to grow yourself and can be frozen, which means you can harvest large quantities of them while they are at their prime and have them on hand all year long.  Our chives have been going gangbusters this year, and, I've been harvesting and freezing them for a couple of weeks now.  Here is how my grandmother taught my mother to do it, and, how my mother taught me to do it:

~ Step 1.  PICT2734To Freeze Chives: Harvest them early in the morning, before the hot sun softens and wilts the leaves.  If you feel compelled to wash them, which I do not usually do or like to do, lightly rinse them under cold water and lay them on a few layers of paper towels to dry.  Chives must be completely free from water in order to freeze them successfully!  

PICT2736~ Step 2.  Slice them very thinly, placing them in a food storage container or a food storage bag as you work.  Place them in the freezer.  Do not thaw them prior to using them!  

~ Step 3.  Add and stir them frozen into all sorts of cooked food, or, sprinkle them, as a garnish, atop your favorite foods and into your favorite salads (they will thaw to the perfect texture almost instantly)!

6a0120a8551282970b015432105488970c-800wiFresh Chives:  The 1st Herb of Our Spring Garden:  Recipe yields instructions for harvesting and freezing chives.

Special Equipment List:  scissors; cutting board; paring knife;  food storage container w/tight fitting lid, or food storage bag

Cook's Note:  To read my recipe for ~ Buttermilk, Blue Cheese 'n Chive Salad Dressing ~ (pictured just above), click into Categories 8 or 10!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

05/08/2012

~ Dear Perfectly Baked Potato: Your Crispy Skin and Fluffy Center, Make My Steaks Taste Even Better!!! ~

PICT2733Here in Happy Valley, April showers did bring May flowers, and, with that, the official start to grilling season.  I am here to tell you, Joe and I were not the only couple in the neighborhood putting steaks on the grill this past weekend.  Actually, we put quite a few steaks on the grill on Saturday night.  It was Penn State's Graduation, and, a son of friends was part of the pomp and circumstance.  While the graduates were off celebrating (into the wee hours of Sunday morning), we old folks retired to the hot tub for cocktails and a late evening dinner and kitchen encounter!

As per Alex and Neela's request, I did what they asked, "Please keep it really simple so we can all just relax and chat".  I served grilled Delmonico steaks (I did splurge for Kobe beef), baked potatoes with creme fraiche (and of course gobs of butter), a marinated cucumber-tomato salad and lemon cheesecake for dessert.  Around 7:00PM, just as I was ready to put my properly prepped potatoes in the oven, Neela (who sportingly has given me permission tell this story and use her real name) said, "What are you doing?  Just throw those on the grill with the steaks or in the microwave!"  Before I could even roll an eye or mumble a word, Joe light-heartedly blurted out, "Let her go Neela.  Mel will never agree to do that.  You'll taste why in about an hour!"

PICT2735A bit about the Russet potato: Known also as the Idaho or russet Burbank potato (named for their developer, horticulturist Luther Burbank), these common potatoes are specifically labeled "baking". They are long, slightly rounded, with thick, rough skins. When cooked, they have pearly white, dry flesh.  Their low moisture/high starch content gives them superior baking qualities, plus, makes them excellent for making French fries!

PICT2736While they make great mashed potatoes and potato salad too, they don't do well when boiled, so bake them for use in those two culinary applications too.  For the best texture and most even cooking, always choose (preferably hand-pick), medium-large (10-12-ounce), even-sized, very firm potatoes. Stay away from ones that are spongy, have dark spots and/or a lot of eyes.  Store them singularly (not in a plastic bag), in a cool, dry, dark place, and, never, ever, refrigerate!

A Crispy, Edible Skin + A Light, Fluffy Center = Perfection!

PICT0004~ Step  1.  Using a vegetable brush, thoroughly scrub...

desired number of 10-12-ounce russet potatoes

... under tepid water, to remove dirt. Pat dry in a few paper towels. Using a fork, prick the skin of each one, about 16-18 times, evenly around the surface.  This will allow steam to escape as the potatoes cook, which results in light, fluffy centers!

PICT2736~ Step 2.  One at a time, place each potato in a shallow bowl or on a plate.  Drizzle each with about...

1 1/2  teaspoons vegetable oil, more or less

... and, using a pastry brush lightly coat each potato in oil, or:

PICT0021Note:  If you'd like to use crisp bacon bits as a topping, coat your potatoes in the bacon fat.

Yes, I said bacon fat... because my grandmother did that!  

Did I forget to mention these potatoes are salt crusted too!?!

PICT2739~Step 3.  Line an appropriately-sized baking pan with parchment paper.  A 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan will hold 6-12 potatoes. Sprinkle ...

4 tablespoons coarse sea salt

... over the parchment.  Arrange the oil-coated potatoes, well apart, on prepared pan.  Sprinkle more coarse salt over their tops, 1/2-1 teaspoon atop each.

PICT2737~ Step 4.  Bake on center rack of preheated 400 degree oven about 60-70 minutes.  The potatoes should be cooked through, very soft and tender when pierced with a fork or a knife, and, slightly crisp on the outside.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool, about 5-10 minutes, prior to serving and topping with butter, sour cream or creme fraiche, bacon bits, chives, etc!

To serve:  Hold each potato with a fork, while cutting it down the center lengthwise, about halfway through its depth.  Using your fingertips, pinch the sides and ends of the potato together, then, give it a pinch upwards too, so the potato pulp plumps in the middle and the steam is released.  Serve immediately with your favorite toppings:

PICT2746Dear Perfectly Baked Potato:  Your Crispy Skin and Fluffy Center, Make My Steaks Taste Even Better!!!:  Recipe yields instructions for baking as many potatoes as desired.

Special Equipment List:  vegetable brush; paper towels; fork; pastry brush; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; paring knife

PICT0103Cook's Note:  My recipe for ~ Baked Potato, Roasted Garlic & Cheddar Cheese Soup ~, found in Categories 2, 11, & 22, is not only sinfully thick and delicious,  it will show you another way to perfectly bake potatoes in the oven and incorporate them into soup.  It will show you how to roast garlic too! 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012) 

05/06/2012

~ A Bakeware Essential: The Springform Pan ~

PICT2731Yesterday,  I received an excellent e-mail from a reader regarding my recipe for ~ "Come for Coffee and Cake."  Coffeecake:  Cinnamon-Orange, Chocolate-Chip, Pecan Streusel ~ (recipe found in Categories 6 & 9).  It was regarding the use of a springform pan.  Normally, I would save a comment like this for my Friday ~ Culinary Q&A & Kitchen Therapy Too ~. As I pondered my answer, I realized it was getting long and detailed enough to turn it into a post, so, I decided to take some time today to give the springform pan the press it rightfully deserves!

PICT2739Q.  Jennifer asks:  I just read your recipe for the chocolate-chip coffee cake and I can't wait to try it.  I know my husband is going to love it.  I don't have a springform pan, but I do have a 9"-round, cake pan.  Can I bake the cake in this pan instead? I am willing to buy a springform pan, if you tell me I should, and, I'd really appreciate any advice or recommendations you will share!

PICT2734A.  Kitchen Encounters:  In  the case of almost any coffeecake, you do not need a springform pan. It can be baked in a metal baking pan or glass baking dish, because, it is a type of cake that can be cut and served directly from the pan or dish. I am sorry to report that your 9" round cake pan will not work.  Why? It will not be big/high enough to accommodate the coffeecake as it rises during the baking process.  If you want to use a metal pan or a glass dish to bake my coffeecake, use a 13" x 9" x 2" rectangular one!

PICT2731A bit about the springform pan!

PICT2736If you like to bake, I highly-recommend you invest in one of these pans.  The most common size is 9"-round (pictured above), but they are available mini-sized, in graduated sets, along with square- and heart-shaped ones too!  

The price ($15.00-$50.00) is pretty much determined by what material it is made of: anodized aluminum, heavy-guage steel, regular or nonstick  surfaces, and, features like glass bottoms and/or waterproof seals around the base.

PICT2733Springform pans (no matter what shape), have high, straight sides (2 1/2"-3") that expand with the aid of a spring-loaded latch or clamp.  The separate bottom, can be removed when the latch is released.  This allows for cakes, coffeecakes, tortes or cheesecakes, which would be difficult or impossible to remove from an ordinary pan, to be easily extricated and served by removing the pan's sides (allowing the cake to remain on the base of the pan). This springform pan is made by Anolon and costs about $20.00!

6a0120a8551282970b014e894e677c970d-800wiWhile I love the waterproof option, over time, the latch tends to loosen, which allows small breaks in the seal.  So, when baking a delicate cheesecake in a water bath, always wrap the bottom of the pan in aluminum foil to avoid any potential leaks.  To read my recipe for ~ Philly's "Frog" Lemon Cheesecake ~, just click into Categories 6 or 17!

"We are all in the food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipes, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012) 

05/04/2012

~ Culinary Q&A & Kitchen Therapy Too (5/4/12) ~

Culinary Q & A #2It's the first Friday in May, and, almost instantly, everyone and everything in Happy Valley, PA, has come alive.  Leaves are on the trees, flowers are blooming and vegetable gardens are sprouting. The women have opened up the doors and windows, finished up the Spring cleaning, and, are enjoying relaxing walks around the neighborhood.  Men are mowing lawns, putting out patio furniture and polishing barbecue grills!

I am happy to report that more than a few of you are using the recently added "email me" feature at the top of my homepage.  I am now happily answering cooking questions and receiving comments on a daily basis!  

Potatoes Gratin #1 (Intro Picture)Q.  Dixie says and asks:  I just discovered your website and I love it!  If I prepare and bake the au gratin potatoes ahead of time and reheat them in the microwave, what power would I use and for approximately how long? Will the center get heated as well?

Potatoes Gratin #13 (First Scoop)A.  Kitchen Encounters:  Thank you for the lovely comment and question Dixie!  I often make and bake the potatoes a day or two ahead and reheat them in the microwave (they are actually better the next day)!  Here's how I do it:  

Take the casserole of potatoes out of the refrigerator and bring them to room temperature before reheating. Because they are dense, this will take 3-4 hours.  Cover the top of the casserole with plastic wrap.  My microwave has a "reheat" cycle.  I start by putting the casserole in for 20 minutes.  Then 10 minutes.  Then, in 5 minute increments until they are steaming hot. This usually takes about 40-45 total minutes.  The microwave does an excellent job of heating the center, so don't worry about that at all.  Individual portions reheat really well too!

The ~ Perfect Potatoes au Gratin (Scalloped Potatoes) ~ recipe can be found in Category 4!

************

6a0120a8551282970b0154359e9dea970c-320wiQ.  Michael says and asks:  I've had the Breadman for at least 10 years (stored away).  I never had much success with it.  One lucky day I Googled "bread machine" and found your fab brioche recipe. OUTSTANDING!  I made the two-pounder and it was delish.  Our family of three ate the whole loaf in three days.  The third day gave us French toast, but we didn't have enough for second helpings. Making more today.  The house will smell great again.  How can I get additional bread machine recipes from you?

6a0120a8551282970b015434047a79970c-800wiA.  Kitchen Encounters:  Michael! I am so happy to hear your Breadman is out of the box and you are enjoying the brioche as much as my family does.  I never buy store-bought bread anymore!

You'll be happy to know that I am currently working on a bread machine cinnamon-raisin bread.  I will e-mail you directly the moment I get it posted!

6a0120a8551282970b0148c6ebd48d970c-800wiAlso, I have previously posted my recipe for ~ Perfect Peach Preserves from the Bread Machine ~, which can be found in Categories 8, 9 or 22.   They are devine atop my recipe for ~ Mel's French-Vanilla French Toast (Pain Perdu) ~, which is in Category 9!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone, and once again:  To leave a comment or ask a question, simply click on the blue title of any post, scroll to the end of it and type away... or e-mail me directly!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipes, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

05/01/2012

~ "Come over for some coffee and cake." Coffeecake: Cinnamon-Orange, Chocolate-Chip, Pecan-Streusel ~

PICT2755During the 1950's and 60's, if you were a housewife or a stay-at-home mom, once you got your kids off to school and/or your husband off to work, you most likely participated in a daily, weekly or occasional mid-morning coffee break with neighborhood friends, or, a "coffee klatch".  The term "coffee klatch" comes from the German word "kaffeeklatsch", meaning "coffee chat" or a casual gathering for sharing coffee and conversation with close confidants.  Literally translated: "kaffee" = coffee, and, "klatsch" = gossip.  For women then and now, I like to think of this social activity as kitchen therapy, and, in today's super-busy world, almost nothing sounds more relaxing to me than a neighborly, invitation for coffee and cake... how cozy!

I Love Coffeecake.  Simple, Straightforward & Sweet.

00041261253064_fullI grew up in the Lehigh Valley region of Eastern Pennsylvania.  Because of the large Pennsylvania Dutch influence in this area, I am no stranger to coffeecake.  Everybody bakes them, eats them and loves them.  There are many versions, but in this locale, almost all coffeecakes are rich buttercakes topped with a streusel of some sort.  The term "Dutch" is slang for the German word "Deutsch", so, when we say Pennsylvania Dutch, we mean Deutsch and are crediting the German people for their delicious recipes!

698px-Drakes-Coffee-CakeBesides eating lots of homemade coffeecake, I also grew up during the heyday of the Drake's empire. Drake's (now owned by Hostess Brands) has been providing the Northeastern United States with snack-sized coffeecakes for over a century.  In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, they compete head-to-head with Tastykake.  Back in my elementary school days, my Barbie lunch box usually contained one of my two favorite things for dessert:  a small, round Drake's coffeecake, or, a rectangular, snack-sized, lemon pudding-filled Tastykake pie!

A PICT2738 bit about coffeecake: Coffeecakes are rich, sweet, cake-like breads which are usually eaten for breakfast or brunch.  While they are rich with butter and eggs, they are considerably less sweet than a standard cake, which is why they are perfect fare for breakfast or brunch.  Some are made with yeast, but those made with baking soda and/or baking powder, which take less time to prepare and fall into the category of "quick" coffeecakes, are just as delicious.  The batter is often made with with buttermilk, cream cheese, sour cream or yogurt, which adds a lovely tang. They often contain fresh or dried fruit, jam, preserves, and, sometimes nuts, which adds even more delicious taste and texture.  They can be served unembellished, or, with a light dusting of confectioners' sugar, glazed, frosted, or topped with streusel.  They can be round, square, thick or thin, and, eaten at room temperature or slightly warm!

PICT2731For the streusel topping:

1/2  cup coarsely chopped pecans

1/4  cup sugar

1  tablespoon ground cinnamon

For the "dry" portion of the coffeecake batter:

2 1/4  cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1  tablespoon ground cinnamon

1  teaspoon baking powder

1  teaspoon baking soda

For the "wet" portion of the coffeecake batter:

4  ounces salted butter, at room temperature, very soft (1 stick)

8  ounces cream cheese, at room temperature, very soft

2  extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/4  cups sugar

1 1/2  teaspoons pure orange extract, not imitation

1 1/2  teaspoons pure vanilla extract, not imitation

1/4  cup whole milk

1  12-ounce bag, miniature-sized, semi-sweet, chocolate chips (about 2 cups)

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing pan

PICT2733~ Step 1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray inside of 8 1/2"-9" springform pan with no-stick spray.

~ Step 2.  Prepare the streusel topping by combining the sugar, cinnamon, and chopped pecans in a small bowl.  Set aside.

PICT2730~ Step 3.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the "dry" ingredients: the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda.  Set aside.

PICT2736 PICT2732~ Step 4.  In a medium mixing bowl, starting on low speed of electric mixer, then increasing speed to high, cream together the butter, cream cheese, eggs, sugar and both extracts, about 30 seconds on low and 1 minute of high-speed mixing.  Lower the mixer speed and fold in the milk.

PICT2743~ Step 5.  Using a large rubber spatula, fold the chocolate chips into the cream cheese mixture.

PICT2748~ Step 6. Add and fold this "wet" mixture into the "dry" flour mixture, mixing until the dry ingredients are just moistened yet thoroughly combined.  Do not over mix.  The batter will be thick, spoonable and spreadable.

PICT2749~ Step 7.  Transfer the batter to prepared pan.  Using the spatula smooth the top.  On the countertop, give the pan a few vigorous shakes and a tap or two, to ensure the batter is evenly distributed.

PICT2751~ Step 8. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the batter. Some cinnamon and sugar will remain in the bottom of the bowl. Sprinkle it evenly over the top too.

PICT2734 PICT2752~ Step 9. Bake on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.  At this point, loosely lay a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the pan to prevent the nuts from burning.  Continue to bake, 5-10 additional minutes, or, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  

PICT2731

 

~ Step 10.  Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for 15-20 minutes prior to removing sides from pan for further cooling, slicing and serving (1 1/2-2 hours of cooling for slightly warm cake, or, 3+ hours for room temperature). 

Note:  As this coffeecake cools, the center is going to sink a bit.  This is normal, so don't panic.  That's going to be the moist, chocolate-y center!

PICT2731"Come over for some coffee and cake."  Coffeecake:  Cinnamon-Orange, Chocolate-Chip, Pecan Streusel:  Recipe yields 1, 8" round cake, or, 10-12 servings.

Special Equipment List:  8 1/2"-9" springform pan; cutting board; chef's knife; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; aluminum foil; cake tester or toothpick; cooling rack 

6a0120a8551282970b0147e3bd8712970b-800wiCook's Note:  For another reason to invite a few friends over for coffee and cake, click into Category 6 to get my PA Dutch recipe for ~ Nana's Applesauce-Oatmeal-Raisin-Walnut Cake ~!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)